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The National Roman Fabric Reference Collection: a Handbook

Hand specimen picture panel
Thin section picture panel

References

Appendix 1: Keywords and Definitions
Appendix 2: Physical Layout of Sherds Housed in the NRFRC

 

German Coarse Fabrics

A related group of coarse ware pottery was produced at a number of sites in the Eifel/Rhine area of Germany which in aggregate is frequently referred to as ‘Eifelkeramik.’ Included amongst the production areas are Speicher, Mayen and Urmitz, where pottery was produced during both the Roman and medieval periods. Samples from both Speicher and Mayen are included here, and the two fabrics are described separately below.

General appearance/hand specimen

Briefly, Mayen ware contains sedimentary rock inclusions, while Speicher ware is restricted to quartz. They are united however by being very hard with a harsh ‘pimply’ surface – due to protruding inclusions, hackly fracture and frequently mottled surfaces. In Britain, both typically occur as ledge-rim or bead-rim jars, and dishes. Roman mortaria, best known from early Tiberio-Claudian levels at Sheepen (Hartley 1985b), are in allied fabrics and have been associated with production in this region (Williams 1985, 1993), but at this time it has not been possible to include samples of these vessels in the collection. Richardson (1986, 110) has also allied a group of 3rd century mortaria to production at Speicher and Urmitz.

Source

These wares are part of a long tradition of pottery making, continuing into the medieval period, and known from kilns throughout the region. Inclusions in the fabric are compatible with the regional geology, as summarised by Richardson (1986, 109–10).

References

Fulford, M G, & Bird, J, 1975 Imported pottery from Germany in late Roman Britain, Britannia 6, 171–81

Gose, E, 1976 Gefässtypen der römischen Keramik im Rheinland, Cologne (2nd ed)

Hartley, K F, 1985b The mortaria – discussion and conclusions, in Sheepen: an early Roman industrial site at Camulodunum (R Niblett), CBA Res Rep 57, 92 and microfiche 2E7-G5

Redknap, M, 1988 Medieval pottery production at Mayen: recent advances, current problems, in Zur Keramik des Mittelalters und der beginnenden Neuzeit im Rheinland: Medieval and later pottery from the Rhineland and its markets (eds D R M Gaimster, M Redknap & H-H Wegner), BAR Int Ser 440, 3–37

Redknap, M, 1995 Mayen ware from Canterbury, in Excavations in the Marlowe Car Park and surrounding areas. Part 2: the finds (K Blockley, M Blockley, P Blockley, S S Frere & S Stow), The archaeology of Canterbury 5, 737–40

Richardson, B, 1986 The waterfront group: coarsewares and non-samian finewares, in The Roman quay at St Magnus House, London. Excavations at New Fresh Wharf, Lower Thames Street, London 1974–1978 (L Miller, J Schofield & M Rhodes), London Middlesex Archaeol Soc Spec Pap 8, 106–38

Williams, D F, 1985 Petrological analysis of the mortaria, in Sheepen: an early Roman industrial site at Camulodunum (R Niblett), CBA Res Rep 57, 93

Williams, D F, 1993 The petrology of mortarium fabrics 5, 6, 11 and 13, in Report on the excavations at Usk 1965–1976. The Roman pottery (ed W H Manning), 424–5


Mayen Coarse ware (MAY CO)

Five samples

This is also known as German Mayener ware.

General appearance

Mayen ware vessels are frequently khaki (2.5YR 5/3–5/4, 2.5YR 6/3–6/4) or brown (10YR 4/2), buff (10YR 8/3–8/4) to pale orange or cream (10YR 7/4, 7.5YR 7/6) both on the surface and break, occasionally with a light grey (7/0-6/0) core.

Hand specimen

A vitrified clay matrix, appearing very dense and clean, is typical of the fabric. It is characterised by abundant ill-sorted subrounded red-brown sandstone or finer rock fragments (0.2–3.0mm). The remaining inclusions range between 0.3–2.0mm, but normally do not exceed 1.0mm. Feldspar is abundant to common, frequently with visible cleavage planes, followed by fewer accessory minerals as common to sparse. Finally, sparse quartz is also present. Varying quantities of red iron-rich inclusions (0.1–0.5mm) are present, some of which may be sedimentary rocks but are too small to identify accurately in the hand specimen.

Thin section

The clay contains common ill-sorted subangular fine to very coarse-grade sand, including fragments of a very fine quartz sandstone, elongate grains of siltstone/slate, twinned and untwinned feldspar, greenish/tawny pleochroic clinopyroxene, porphyritic lava and brown amphibole.

Donors

Canterbury Museums; Museum of London

Museums

Canterbury Museums; Department of Medieval & Later Antiquities, The British Museum (sherds in Medieval reference collection); Museum of London; Rheinisches Landesmuseum, Bonn (Germany); Landesamt fur Denkmalpflege, Abteilung der Archäologische Denkmalpflege Amt, Koblenz (Germany) (medieval); Eifeler Landschaftsmuseum, Genovevaburg, Mayen (Germany)

References

Eiden, H, 1982 Ausgrabungen an Mittelrhein und Mosel in 1963–1976, Trier

Redknap, M, 1987 The Roman and medieval pottery industry of the West German Eifel, Unpublished PhD, Institute of Archaeology, University of London

Redknap, M, 1999 Die römischen und mittelalterlichen Töpfereien in Mayen, Kreis Mayen-Koblenz, Berichte zur Archäologie an Mittelrhein und Mosel 6, 1-401

Unverzagt, W, 1916 Die Keramik des Kastells Alzei, Materialen zur römisch-germanischen Keramik 2, Frankfurt-am-Main

See the related record on the Atlas of Roman Pottery on the Potsherd website

Plate 51: Fresh sherd break of MAY CO (width of field 24 mm). Click to see a larger version

Plate 51: Fresh sherd break of MAY CO (width of field 24 mm)

Plate 51.1: Photomicrograph of MAY CO (XPL) (width of field 3.5 mm). Click to see a larger version

Plate 51.1: Photomicrograph of MAY CO (XPL) (width of field 3.5 mm)